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News/Referendum Alert, 2007...


Brown betrays us PM Gordon Brown has agreed the 'EU Reform Treaty', a.k.a. the Treaty of Lisbon, but viewed by many with good reason as the failed EU Constitution (Mk 2).

There must be something very special about this treaty setting up the EU superstate, as he refuses to give the British people a say in a referendum - even though this effectively in breach of his election promise. So much for his hyped Parliamentary speech on constitutional reform in July, when he explicitly promised that we should have a say on all major decisions affecting us (BBC, 3.7.07).

Brown claimed to want to address two fundamental questions: to hold power more accountable and to uphold and enhance the rights and responsibilities of the citizen. "The right of all the British people to have their voice heard is fundamental to our democracy and to holding public institutions to account"

He even had the gall to claim that Parliament itself must become more accountable! So much for all the "listening", "never losing touch with the concerns of people" and "building trust in democracy" in his leadership Acceptance Speech (now-defunct leadership campaign website, 17.5.07)

Miliband rattled on TV His Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was even quoted that demands for a popular vote are based on "scare stories and myths" and that referendums were the "refuge of dictators and demagogues".

(Funny how quiet he was over the thirty or so other referendums under New Labour - for instance the North East referendum on regional government, where the poll was all about voters having the "confidence to have their own voice" (Newcastle Journal, 26.10.04).

On 21.2.06, Miliband wrote in the Guardian, pledging to tackle a "power gap" by giving local people more control of their own lives.

To add to the confusion, Justice Minister Michael Wills remarked that any "fundamental alteration in the powers of Parliament" was likely to make a vote by the public necessary. (Read: on a written Constitution for the UK, (BBC, 25.10.07).

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Brown cheapens heroes' sacrifice PM Gordon Brown has paid tribute to Britain's war heroes.

"Reflecting on that generation's honour and courage never fails to fill me with awe and gratitude. To me, they epitomise a very British spirit of solidarity, unflinching in their willingness to come forward and do whatever is needed to defend our freedom. Why did they do it?"

Not so that their country and our freedom should be lost to a continental superstate. If Brown signs the EU Con Treaty in December, it will cheapen both their sacrifice and his own words.

It also remains to be seen if Labour tries to whip the Con Treaty through Parliament, thereby squashing any backbenchers with both conscience and courage to uphold their election promise, and who do "whatever is needed to defend our freedom".

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An example of the consequences of handing power to unaccountable authorities (and against which the much hyped Human Rights Act was useless).

Minimal proection against EU Police State New Labour's European Arrest Warrant allowed a Londoner to be scapegoated for an offence in Spain. Joseph Mendy was dragged abroad without a shred of evidence, detained for the summer, then told to plead guilty or face a year's further detention so that he could prove his innocence.

To regain his freedom, he had to suffer a fine of over £400 for a crime he did not commit.

"We have to have faith in our European partners", said Justice minister Meg Hillier, content that the Warrant was properly used. (Hansard)

What of the two Liberal Democrat leadership contenders, MPs Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg?

They have strangely ruled out a referendum on the new Con Treaty, even though the LibDems's elected leader in the European Parlament, Chris Davies MEP noted:

"The EU Constitutional Treaty is dead. The EU Reform Treaty is very much alive. I think we should be honest in admitting that the difference between the two is minimal. One analysis suggests that of 250 proposals in the Constitutional Treaty some 240 (96%) have survived in the renamed version, and I do not dispute this

....many Liberal Democrat MPs would like to call for a referendum to protect them from Tory attacks in their constituencies". (6.8.07)

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Nick Clegg won't trust us with a referendum Amazingly, LibDem leadership favourite Nick Clegg wrote an article entitled "We need an EU referendum " in 2003, admitting that the EU Constitution was no mere "tidying up exercise"....

He warned against: "...haughtily dismissing all calls for a referendum

...Nothing will do more damage to the pro-European movement than giving room to the suspicion that we have something to hide, that we do not have the "cojones" [guts] to carry our argument to the people...

The real reason, of course, why the government does not want to hold a referendum is the fear that it may lose". (Guardian, 15.10.03)

In spite of his about-turn, he tries to kid his constituents he is about: "giving power to individuals.... A politics which places its faith in people, not systems – in communities not bureaucracies". (Yorkshire Post, 19.10.07)

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Clegg is a mess of confusion, mixing the slogan "We need to give power back to people". (BBC, 16.10.07) with "I want to see a European Union that is more open, more decentralised and more accountable".

Only one problem, once the EU has taken power from a country, it is under EU rules permanently taken away from the people, and administered by the remote European Commission and European Court.

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Clegg's 'My Vision for Britain' continues the contradictions.

"I want the Liberal Democrats to lead the process of breaking down our oversized, unresponsive, monolithic state, making it human in scale and personal in character....

...we will harness, not jettison, the British freedoms that previous generations fought so hard to win and to protect....

The days of big government solutions - of the 'man in Whitehall knows best - are now coming to an end. I want the Liberal Democrats to lead the debate about how we can take power and put it back in the hands of the British people....

Our objective isn't simply to bring power closer to people. It is to give power to people..."

He ends by urging LibDems to "stay true to your beliefs". Doesn't exactly practice what he preaches, yet decoys attention to William Hague, accusing him of 'profound dishonesty' and implying a covert agenda (interview with Andrew Marr, Guardian, 21.10.07).

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LibDem blogger Iain Sharpe noted (19.10.07) that Clegg had said that [the new Con Treaty] is a "modest" document that does not need a referendum. Chris Huhne said much the same thing on television last night.

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What about the stance of the other former MEP, Huhne, now MP for Eastleigh?

"The U-turn by the Government to accept the case for a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty was welcomed today by Hampshire MEP Chris Huhne....

....Public approval for new arrangements by which the EU is run is vital on principle' said Mr Huhne" (Eastleigh LibDems, 19.4.04).

Huhne's credentials a joke Huhne rails against the 'intrusive and bossy state' (BBC video) and also sloganises: "We need to give power back to people" (BBC, 16.10.07)

- Except of course on question of the EU constitution that would set up a bossy Eurostate with a right to determine and take away our rights!

Huhne expands on his ideas in 'The Liberal Revolution'.

He claims that power has drained away from communities to London, but has a blind spot on the bulk of the power that drained away to the EU.

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On Iraq, he notes "The failure of parliament to prevent our invasion despite the overwhelming weight of public opinion has contributed to growing sense that politics is beyond the control of ordinary people, a sense that it no longer matters what anyone thinks apart from a few politicians....".

Exactly the same could be said about invasive EC legislation. He has a brainwave though...

"One way in which a sense of trust in politics might be restored is to give the people themselves a veto on all legislation.

A "people's veto" gives voters confidence that in the end they are in control - that ultimately they can stop changes that they find unacceptable.

This would based on the non-EU Swiss system (with a quorum of about 2.5% of the population able to call a vote). Oddly it would be useless as a defence against EU obligations, and he does not favour giving the people a vote on the EU Con Treaty!

The same comment applies to his 'A Freedom bill to give back liberties' idea....
"A key purpose of constitutional reform is to put people back at the centre of our politics, and to tame the arbitrary authority of the state. We must never waver in our defence of political freedom and civil liberties".

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now an EU branch office Westminster  We can hardly be surprised that PM Brown has given MPs two weeks' extra annual holiday as there isn't enough for them to do in Parliament. With European (EC) law intended to be superior to ours as a key principle, and the EU's control over our lives extended further and further, why keep the place at all? (See Booker, S. Telegraph, 21.10.07).

Amazingly, the Guardian website reports on talks on funding for political parties that might allow the big parties to pocket an extra £90 million of taxpayers' money to clear their debts, without giving up their dependence on the "big donor culture" (21.10.07). Some people's contempt for voters is unbelievable.

The veteran Parliamentarian, Tony Benn, was right when he noted that power belonged to the people, and that it was effectively loaned to Parliament every five years. It isn't possible, under our over-looked British Constitution therefore to give powers away; however we support a consultative referendum that shows the strength of feeling over "Who governs Britain".

Our website is catching up over the new Con Treaty that has just been signed. The latter has lost some of the "formalities" of a constitution like a flag and anthem (which exist separately). But it is still essentially a repackaged EU Constitution.

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Constitution students are recommended to Open Europe's site for information on the latest texts, including on the dangerous arrangements concerning Justice and Home Affairs, and the role of the Charter on Fundamental Rights.

Red herring, stinking fish! The site also debunks Brown's 'red herring' of 'preserving red lines' - a distraction from the great give-away of powers.

A link at the top of this page gives the EU's own texts.

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Constitution ghost returns We can add a little-known shocker: control of our foreign policy (apart from in military matters) was effectively lost before Britain joined the EEC.

The Foreign Secretary, who showed himself up on Newsnight as 'Thoroughly Muddled Mili', obviously did not know of a longstanding ruling which holds that where an (EU) 'internal' (i.e. domestic) policy has been agreed, it should have a common 'external' (i.e. foreign) policy to support it.

New Labour has effectively let the EU make between 60-80% of our laws, and mostly by majority voting, so we have no veto. Few areas of everyday life don't have an 'internal policy' to be matched by a foreign policy, and they will be diminished still further by the new Constitutional Treaty. See European Court Case 22/70, decided on 31.3.71.

Remember that Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs the Government had secured all its 'red lines' on policy areas where it was not willing to give away power.

As long as Britain's "red lines" were maintained, Mr Brown added, "then there's no need for a referendum" (Daily Mail, 24.7.07).

As the 'red lines' quite clearly have been bypassed, Brown, by his own perverse logic should have to concede a referendum.

Trust? You can't face both ways... David Cameron supports a Con Treaty referendum in opposition. But what if he gets elected and it has been ratified?

He will only promise a retrospective referendum after the next general election on six conditions: – if the opponents of the treaty failed to defeat the Government in the Commons; if they failed in the Lords; if the Prime Minister did not change his mind; if there was not an early election; if every other country ratified the accord; and if no other EU state held a referendum on the issue.

The Independent (24.10.07) claims he fears that a stronger commitment would make the party look obsessed with Europe. This also seems strange as the Irish Republic must constitutionally hold a referendum, making his proposal a non-starter?

Daniel Hannan MEP rightly blogs (25.10.07):

"Yet it now seems that this pledge might not apply if Labour has already ratified the constitution. Why not? If the treaty is as bad as David Cameron says it is (and it is), it doesn’t become any better for having received royal assent. If the case for a referendum is as powerful as he says it is (and it is), it is no less powerful when applied retrospectively."

“One of the things that people most resent about the EU is that it is a one-way street. Powers pass from the nations to Brussels, but never the other way around. It is known in the jargon as the “occupied field doctrine”: once the EU has legislated in a new area of policy, its jurisdiction in that area is guaranteed in perpetuity. The “occupied field doctrine” was given legal force by Maastricht in 1992, which committed Brussels “to maintain in full and build upon the acquis communautaire” – that is, the accumulated heap of EU laws and regulations”.

Given this clarification, Cameron is treading on very thin ice. In March 2007, he told the first conference of the Movement for European Reform (MER) in Brussels:

"People in Europe have an ever-increasing feeling that something is going wrong, that an untransparent, complex, intricate, mammoth institution has evolved... grabbing ever greater competences and areas of power; that the democratic control mechanisms are failing: in brief, that it cannot go on like this." (Quote source: constituency news bulletin from Greg Hands MP #122, March 2007)

But if Cameron is to take his own advice: “….we know that the first step is to be honest about the new challenges we face." he would learn that the prospect of any meaningful 'EU reform' is a mirage.

His two allies in the MER tie up could provide a source of future embarrassment.

Officially the Tories, the Czech ODS and Bulgarian UDF comprise “a pan-European campaign bringing together individuals, organisations and political parties who share a commitment to open markets, a Europe of nation states and the importance of the Atlantic relationship. We want the EU to be a force for good in the 21st century. That means EU reform”.

Tory-federalist tie up Unfortunately, when the President of the EPP party, Wilfried Martens, hailed the European Council agreement on the new Reform (i.e. Constitutional) Treaty (23.6.07), he counted ODS leader Mirek Topolanek in “our 11 heads of State and Government” that gave Chancellor Merkel “their full support and reinforced her efforts”.

Some commitment to ‘reform’! The UDF are even fully paid-up members of the EPP - Martens advisesThe EPP is committed to a federal Europe...

Oddly, the Conservative Group for Europe – an official group within the Conservative Party – would like us to believe:
"Nowadays, many of the EPP's member parties and leading personalities would not consider themselves to be "federalist".....”. They should read its constitution!

CGE also claims that the main pusher behind the EU Con Treaty (Angela Merkel) and her CDU/CSU party: “far from being uncritical advocates of greater European centralisation, as Eurosceptic critics like to claim, is presenting a modern reform agenda, which most Conservatives in Britain should find sympathetic".

If Cameron is to criticise New Labour for breaching trust, he needs to put his own house in order.

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This page updated: 12 December 2007

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